The Green Bay Packers offense has been hit by injuries all season. This past week against the Chargers, two more significant injuries hit the offense hard. We already know that running back Aaron Jones and tight end Luke Musgrave will miss the Thanksgiving game in Detroit and several more games. Here is how these injuries will change the Packers offense.

Packers Injuries: RB Aaron Jones

Jones entered the 2023 season as the Packers primary back. He had a big game in the season opener against the Bears but suffered a hamstring injury which limited him for the next month.

Jones played just seven games this season, but he was healthy and near full strength for just a handful of those contests. The former UTEP star has gained just 245 yards on 66 carries and is averaging a career-low 3.7-yards per rush.

Against the Chargers, Jones suffered a sprained MCL. He is now listed as week-to-week and is likely to miss at least two games and probably at least four.

The Packers also lost rookie Emanuel Wilson to injury a few plays after Jones. GM Brian Gutekunst placed Wilson on injured reserve on Wednesday, so he be out for at least four games.

The Fallout of the Aaron Jones Injury for the Packers

Without Jones and Wilson, A.J. Dillon now becomes the primary back. The Packers re-signed Patrick Taylor off the Patriots practice squad and re-signed running back James Robinson who was on the practice squad earlier this season but was let go. Both Taylor and Robinson have been added to the active roster.

Dillon will likely get most of the carries in Jones’ absence. But Dillon is a different type of runner than Jones. Dillon runs best between the tackles. He is not as elusive as Jones and is not a breakaway threat.

Dillon is the type of runner who will pick up the yardage that is available to him through the hole the play is designed to go to. He can power for an extra yard or two, but he lacks the ability to change lanes and make cuts to improvise through another gap like Jones can.

The New Backups

Taylor is a reliable back but is not a breakaway threat like Jones. He knows the offense and can do a good job of pass protecting and catching passes out of the backfield, but he is not dynamic with the football.

Robinson gained 1,070 yards in his rookie season with the Jaguars in 2020. The following year, he tore his Achilles tendon in a game against the New York Jets. He has not been as explosive since then and has signed with four different teams without carving out a major role.

The loss of Jones will put more pressure on the Packers offensive line which has struggled with run blocking most of this season. It will also require head coach Matt LaFleur to redesign some of his offense to adjust to the skills of his remaining backs. We may also see more jet sweeps and end arounds as the Packers utilize their wide receivers in the running game.

Packers Injuries: TE Luke Musgrave

Musgrave earned the starting tight end job very early in training camp. The Oregon State alum gave the Packers a unique combination of size and speed and was projected to be the team’s first legitimate downfield threat at tight end since Jermichael Finley.

Musgrave was closing in on the Packers rookie record for catches by a tight end. Through 10 games, Musgrave had 33 catches for 341 yards and one touchdown. He has been a willing blocker but still needs to improve his technique.

In recent games, Musgrave was becoming a bigger downfield threat and a more reliable target.

The Fallout of the Luke Musgrave Injury for the Packers

Against the Chargers, Musgrave suffered a lacerated kidney. He did return to the game initially because he was unaware of the seriousness of the injury.

Earlier this week, Musgrave was hospitalized. He was released from the hospital Tuesday. Wednesday, the Packers placed Musgrave on the IR which means he must miss the next four games at least. It remains unclear how long he will be out of the lineup.

Opportunities for Other Players

With Musgrave unavailable, fellow rookie Tucker Kraft will take over as the team’s top tight end. The third-round pick out of South Dakota State has gradually been given a bigger role in the offense as he gets more comfortable with the scheme and with playing in the NFL.

Kraft has played in all 10 games thus far and has made five catches for 43 yards. Three of those catches came in the last two games.

Kraft made his first big play in the offense against the Chargers, a 27-yard gain down the sideline which almost went for a touchdown. Replays later showed Kraft stepped out of bounds before reaching the end zone but the play was impressive, nonetheless.

LaFleur likes what he’s seen from Kraft in recent weeks. “I think Tucker you can see the growth in him,” the coach said. “Making a huge play on a simple flat route. Just showing his athleticism. His speed. But I think a lot of things you guys don’t always see, just how much growth he’s had in the run game as well as a blocker has been evident. Certainly, going to be more on his plate in this game.”

Rookie Ben Sims will now move up to the second tight end spot. Thus far, Sims has two catches for 14 yards while appearing in just 10 percent of the Packers offensive snaps.

Change is Coming for the Packers Offense Due to Injuries

Expect the Packers to change their offensive approach a bit due to these injuries. The running game will be more straightforward and rely less on cuts and big plays.

The passing game won’t be able to use Musgrave to stretch the field. Kraft is not as big a downfield threat as Musgrave, but he is an elusive runner with the ball in his hands and can make a short pass into a long gain with his ability to run after the catch. This will result in changes to some of the Packers offensive strategies as well.

In the NFL, the motto is “next man up.” We’ll see how well these players take advantage of their opportunities and how it changes things for the Green Bay offense.


Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers.

Click here for more great Packers coverage.